The awarding of contracts for three major multi-billion kwacha sports construction projects have been stopped amid a new government order to ascertain credibility in the procurement processes, Weekend Nation has established.
They are the K7 billion sports complex which will include an indoor netball court in Blantyre, K19 billion Mzuzu Youth Centre and K8 billion swimming pool which is part of renovations for Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Lilongwe.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports said it had already identified contractors for the three projects and what remained was the signing ceremony.
Government has sent a directive to all principal secretaries and heads of departments to temporarily suspend the awarding of all types of Government contracts.
In a statement, the Chief Secretary to Government, Zanga-zanga Chikhosi said: “The temporary suspension is made in order to carry out a quick audit of prospective contracts to ascertain a number of things, including the transparency and credibility of the processes and procedures followed and decisions made.”
Asked on Thursday to clarify if projects, whose contractors have already been identified fall under the order, Chikhosi was affirmatively defiant.
He said: “All the projects, including the sports ones whose contracts have not been signed, are suspended forthwith.”
In the brief interview, Chikhosi could not be drawn to reveal the time frame as to when the auditing will be completed.
But in the statement announcing the directive, he justified it as having legal backing.
“This suspension is in line with the provision of the Corrupt Practices Act (2004), the Public Audit Act (2003), the Public Finance Management Act (2003) and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act (2017) which aim at ensuring corruption-free and fair contract management and prudence in public financial management,” he said.
It added: “Any institution wishing to award any contract should, for the time being, contact my office.”
In an interview, director of sports in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Jameson Ndalama confirmed that they had already identified contractors for the swimming pool and the indoor court.
“I will only speak on the two projects because they fall under my department, that of sports. It is true we identified the contractors. However, they haven’t signed the contracts,” he said.
Ndalama added that the signing ceremony between the ministry and the contractors has been put on hold due to the government directive.
“We are waiting for clarification as to whether the order affects these projects. Once we have been enlightened we will map the way forward,” he said.
The netball court was allocated K500 million in the 2020/21 National Budget and was expected to start at the end of this month. But the suspension means a long wait before it is implemented.
The Mzuzu Youth Centre has been a pipeline project for years, but according to the ministry, it is scheduled to take off this year.
The swimming pool is part of the country’s infrastructure development ahead of the hosting of the Africa Union Sports Council Group 5 Games, is expected to be constructed.
Meanwhile, Ndalama has hinted that Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers stadia projects might still stand as the contractors already signed the contracts.
“Those should be regarded as ongoing projects because the contracts were already signed and the contractors were introduced to the sites,” he said.